American Airlines seeks dismissal of suit from woman who claims she was injured during boarding

By Laura Halleman | Jun 15, 2017

PHILADELPHIA — US Airways Inc. and American Airlines have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a wheelchair-bound passenger who alleges she was injured while being helped aboard an airplane.

Latoya Lewis of Philadelphia filed a complaint on Feb. 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. According to the complaint, Lewis alleged that, on Sept. 11, 2015, she was physically injured while an airline employee was helping her board a plane in her wheelchair. Lewis says her injuries included a fracture of her right femur caused when her leg got caught under a passenger seat while being assisted by an airline employee.

In its motion to dismiss, American Airlines claimed that Lewis failed to prove recklessness on the part of the airline, that her complaint lacked “sufficient factual matter” and that it did not prove that the airline employee’s conduct was “malicious, wanton, willful or oppressive.”

In Lewis’ lawsuit, she alleged that American Airlines was negligent and failed to “adopt, enact and enforce proper adequate safety programs.” The airline said that Lewis did not support her complaint with any codes, regulations or standards that prove the airline had violated any of the three.

The motion cites that under Pennsylvania law, when plaintiffs seek punitive damages, they must prove that reckless conduct was outrageous conduct, evilly motivated or done with indifference or malicious intent to others. 

The motion asks that Lewis file an amended complaint to the court “with a more definitive statement as to the basis of her claims.”

Lewis had requested a jury trial and a judgment against the airline in an amount that exceeds $150,000 plus interest, court costs and punitive damages. She is represented by Ramon A. Arreola of Messa & Associates P.C. in Philadelphia.

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American Airlines U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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